The Book Business: An Industry of Whiners
Cordelia Biddle—and all authors, publishers, booksellers and readers—deserve better.
The Fraudulent Best-Seller Lists
Instead of supporting newspapers with advertising, book publishers spend big bucks to bribe Barnes & Noble and Borders to put certain titles in their windows and give them conspicuous shelf-space inside.
They are also paying PR firms to jimmy Amazon’s—and Barnes & Noble’s—best-seller lists by dishonestly getting their titles onto it. In the words of Carl Baliak’s March 23, 2007 story in The Wall Street Journal:
For $10,000 to $15,000, you, too, can be a best-selling author.
New York public-relations firm Ruder Finn says it can propel unknown titles to the top of rankings on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble with a mass email called the Best-Seller Blast.
This causes three distinct results:
* Books on best-seller lists are not the best books. They are the ones that publishers put the most money behind. Best-seller lists are frauds.
* Books that have no point-of-purchase promotion budget—or special sales in niche markets—become landfill.
* No book advertising in newspapers means very few reviews. Newspapers’ book editors have become vestigial—the publishers’ pet charity cases.
Can Blogs Make up for the Paucity of Book Reviews?
The New York Times’ story by Motoko Rich describing how newspapers are bailing out of the book review business suggested that bloggers will take up the slack. Mentioned in the story are several blogs. I visited them and downloaded some of the leads:
The Lighthouse: An Adam Dalgliesh Mystery, P.J. James
To be honest, a whodunit is not my cup of tea. One is thrust into the guessing game very early on, the detective always gets his culprit, and this person is the least likely suspect. As a genre, the detective novel is conventional and predictable and does not often make for a good reading experience.